This is the End: So Long, Farewell and Goodbye….

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Well here we are. The last train has pulled out of the station. The lights have been dimmed, the ham chilled. For the past 24 ½ years I’ve steered this video store from it’s humble beginnings (those wild-west days were so much fun: Parties. Friends. Good times.!) across the street on Cambie with its AstroTurf floors, bulky VHS tapes and dog biscuit rental tags (which did not last even a day as they were eaten by the first dog came into the shop!) to the current location in all it’s faded glory.

It seems like a life-time ago (and it has been to any 24 year-old!) since we started. I still remember getting resumes and notes of encouragement slipped under the door as we prepared to open. I knew then that I was onto something good. I’ve met many a great folk along the way, customers and staff alike (there were a couple of duds, but they were few and far between). Many are still good friends to this day. And that was always the best part (well, and all those amazing films) – the people. It really was something special. I couldn’t have done it without all the amazing kids who were with me in the trenches slinging videos over the years;  JR, Patrice, Amanda, Keir-la, Melinda, Danielle, John (R.I.P.), Dane, Aliza, Alex, The Don, Robin, Graham, Bill, Shoby, Gwynne, Jacqui, Bjorn, Patrick, other Amanda, James, William, Angie, Eric, Travis, Becky, Naomi, Kathryn, Vanessa, Ava, Dylan and, of course RJ. Phew! I hope that I haven’t forgotten anyone. Apologies if I have.

It was a wicked ride. So many great times, a few bummers (the great fire, Y2K, dirt bus line, streaming services, plague and, of course, John’s passing) but I have so many great memories (what I can remember anyways), that they far outweigh the bad. I’ve had the pleasure of serving thousands of folks who came in looking for a respite from the tyranny of Blockbuster and then from the lame streaming services. It is still rewarding to me to turn folks onto something great that they weren’t familiar with. And to find things that I didn’t know was out there. I’ve seen babies grow up to be fine young adults and folks get old and shuffle off into the night. But that’s how time works, right? I still find it weird, but cool, to see so many people as they get older but I imagine that they think the same of me. Gone is that bright-eyed 30 year-old with a full head of hair only to be replaced by a 55 year-old grey-bearded fellow with a 15 year-old son!

It’s been quite amazing really. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Sure I may have done a few things differently but, like this broke-ass year, hindsight is 2020. Overall I think we did a pretty good job. We’re the last video shop in town and I like to think that what we do still counts for something.

RJ is taking over the reigns September 1st t to keep the video store dream alive. He’ll do a bang-up job and he’s pretty excited. Give him your love and support.

I just want to say thank-you to everyone who has come through the Black Dog’s doors over the past 24 years and grabbed something wonderful to take home (and then bring it back late). Your support and loyalty has meant a great deal to me. It’s sad, yet it’s a relief, to leave the old shop behind. I’ll still be behind the counter over at the Commercial Black Dog but drop into the Cambie shop and say hi this week as I’ll be working my last two official shifts Wednesday and Thursday 2-8pm.

Melinda summed it up nicely in a message to me – “I have seen a lot of (things): A marriage. A funeral. A knife. A giant cheese-ball. Fake blood. Real blood. Tears. Beers. Community. Friends. Freaks. Fires. Films. Lots of films. And dogs…”

Again, thank-you from the bottom of my cold dusty heart. You’ve made this old man feel pretty damn lucky.

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16 Responses to This is the End: So Long, Farewell and Goodbye….

  1. Brenda says:

    Darren,
    Good luck to you in this your next scene…and please if you could keep contributing your witty, entertaining and insightful letters to us, I would be most appreciative, I do look forward to your emails!
    Sincerely, a devoted customer.

    • Darren says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Brenda! I’ll still be doing the newsletter (not next week) and I’m pleased as punch that you enjoy them!

      Cheers,

      Darren

  2. Steven Brown says:

    Thanks for the movies, Darren, and for the memories. My accountant and bodyguard and myself have been around almost from the beginning. That’s a very touching farewell you have there.

    Good luck in all your endeavours today and everyday. When we just can’t stand it anymore and need some of the Drive perhaps we’ll drop by to see what’s shaking..

    • Darren says:

      Hey Steve, thanks for all the years of coming in – you and your bodyguard and accountant! It’s been my pleasure.

      Cheers,

      Darren

  3. Doug Munday says:

    All the best, Darren! Thanks for Black Dog. Sadly I’ve been a very infrequent customer — at Commercial — over the years, but have been enjoying your missives even more in recent months. Happy last Wednesday and Thursday.
    Doug

  4. Robert Flowers says:

    Very best of luck to you. Our house has enjoyed the fruits of your labour for quite a few years. A million thanks wouldn’t be enough. Good on you! Cheers.

  5. terry creamer says:

    Well bite my ass and call me an apple. The things we take for granted. Thanks so much for the chortle inducing reviews over the years. For someone who’s never touched foot in your stores, I’ve been a fan from afar (I live in the Yukon). My friend referred your site to me some time ago and I’ve been a fan ever since of your movie reviews.

    Be good and enjoy your next chapter
    Terry

    • Darren says:

      Hah! Sweet. Thanks for the lovely words! I’ll still be doing the things and whatnot. Not too sure how they may look in the FUTURE but we’ll see. It warms the stale cockles in this old man’s heart to hear that folks enjoy what we do (even, no especially, from afar).

      Cheers!

      Darren

  6. Shokei says:

    Congrats Darren on steering the ship safely 24 years through the pitfalls (literally the Cambie line trench) and the highlights. Great to have you as a neighbour when I worked at the Park Theatre.
    The Cambie store will forever be associated in my mind with John, my manager at the Park. Enjoyed visiting him at the store, and picking his amazing brain for movie insights with great wit.
    Good luck to RJ–he is a worthy successor!

    • Darren says:

      Thanks, Shokei! Ya, one can’t think of the Cambie shop without thinking of John. He is still very much missed.
      RJ will breathe some fresh breath into the old shop. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with it!

      Cheers,

      Darren

  7. patrice cameron says:

    and so it begins! your next chapter. Black Dog Video has been a tremendous success. a real community fixture. I am always so pleased to say I was a first employee when I hear friends talk so excitedly of your reviews and recommendations!

    all the best to you my friend! love patrice

    • Darren says:

      Hey Patrice, lovely to hear from you. Ya, you and JR were my first hires. So long ago it seems. Good times. I’ll still be kicking around the Commercial shop but yes, it has begun. I hope that you are doing well!

      Darren

  8. Bronwyn Elko says:

    Darren,
    I’ve only met you once or twice. Know that I love your contribution to the film scene and wish you the brightest future imaginable. I hope that you keep sharing your views now and then.

    Black Dog Video is a Vancouver treasure.

    Bronwyn

    • Darren says:

      Awww, jeez, thanks for the very kind words. I’ll still be operating the Commercial Black Dog Video shop full time so I’m not quite done yet.

      Cheers,

      Darren

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